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Google Vs. Microsoft: a Tale of Two Interviews 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the A-or-B dept.
jfruh writes "You might be a bit jealous of Andrew Weiss: fresh out of college, he got interviews with both Microsoft and Google. He discusses (to the extent NDAs allow) the differences between the two experiences, ranging from the silly (Google's famous gourmet cafeteria vs. Microsoft's gaming room) to the serious (Google's technical emphasis vs. Microsoft's focus on explanatory and consulting skills.)"
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Google Vs. Microsoft: a Tale of Two Interviews

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  • Interesting (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Nyder (754090) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:05PM (#40444389) Journal

    Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

    Which only goes to show that Google cares about the tech stuff, and MS just cares to make money.

    Not saying that Google doesn't want money, but it doesn't seem to be all that matters to them.

    MS on the other hand, that is all that matters to them.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wjousts (1529427) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:09PM (#40444433)
    Or, that he was interviewing for completely different positions.
  • by Squeebee (719115) <squeebeeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:09PM (#40444449)

    You want a job? Pay for it with you time.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:11PM (#40444481)

    Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

    Which only goes to show that Google cares about the tech stuff, and MS just cares to make money.

    Not saying that Google doesn't want money, but it doesn't seem to be all that matters to them.

    MS on the other hand, that is all that matters to them.

    One of the best advice I ever got was:

    Remember, no matter how great of a thing you create, unless someone sells it it will be forgotten.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BorgAssimilator (1167391) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:15PM (#40444527)

    Not saying that Google doesn't want money, but it doesn't seem to be all that matters to them.

    Playing devil's advocate, you could also say "Not saying that Microsoft isn't technical, but it doesn't seem to be all that matters to them".

    To be fair, a lot of companies underestimate the ability for tech people to have good communication skills, for both inside the company and without. When you have big companies like Microsoft and Google, to have a good infrastructure, you need good communication. This just shows that, for one reason or another, Microsoft has chosen to focus on this in their current hiring process.

    Honestly, they both want / need money and tech to stay in business.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:18PM (#40444575)

    Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

    You do realize that the people the pay the bills are often not interested in the tiny highly technical details. This is also why very often Architects are higher up the food chain than operations personnel.

    It's the architect's ability to communicate that separates them.

  • Re:wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:18PM (#40444579)

    Just some ivy league brat who didn't nail his first interview, and wanted a way to bitch.

    Ah yes, Purdue - the forgotten Ivy.

    I agree with the rest though - worthless article.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:20PM (#40444613)

    I have a job I like, pays well and lets me set my own hours. You have to convince me to come work for you.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:22PM (#40444647)

    Best advice?

    Sounds like one of the most depressing things I have ever heard.

    I would rather create something wonderful no one ever sees than have what I create be dictated by some salesdrone.

  • by Squeebee (719115) <squeebeeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:28PM (#40444729)

    Congratulations, I assume you're not applying then. If you're the best candidate you'll likely have been actively recruited and bypass half the interviews. If you're not the very best candidate then the onus is on you to prove yourself to the employer, not the other way around.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schlesinm (934723) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:40PM (#40444869) Homepage
    I don't care how technical you are if you can't explain what you are doing to others. You need to be able to explain what you are going to do during design phase, so that others can make sure it fits in with the pieces they are working on. You need to explain what you are doing to production support teams, so that they can understand the system well enough to support it. Also, depending on the type of project you are working on, you will probably need to explain some of it to people who do user manuals, phone support documents, training documents etc. There are several different levels of explanation that need to be done and you better be able to explain your application to all of them.
  • Re:Ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:42PM (#40444891)

    "Hmm... why would someone be jealous?"

    Not to mention that I'm sure both Google and Microsoft employee plenty of minimum wage workers... those campuses don't clean themselves (yet) as well as hordes of junior level monkeys, clerks, secretaries, etc. Just getting an interview at a company isn't all that impressive unless it's a high-up job that falls into the "dream job" category for thousands or millions of people.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by skiflyer (716312) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:50PM (#40444987)

    It's a nice thought... but the problem is it becomes very difficult to fund future creations with that mindset. Unless you're fortunate enough to be in some funded department who is just doing R&D it's not a great way to go through life. Even if you are that fortunate, chances are there's some very political individual properly extracting enough from your group to make sure the company at large is getting value out of their funding.

    Same holds for pretty much any productive endeavor.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday June 25, 2012 @04:55PM (#40445057)

    It's possible microsoft, having been in business a while, isn't as starved for technical people as it is for people who can explain what all the technical people just did. Making a product doesn't do you any good if you can't communicate what that product does, and how it would be useful.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Monday June 25, 2012 @05:32PM (#40445479)

    When I interviewed at Google, I was struck by how my main interviewer had no work life balance after he moved to Google. He talked about all of the things he used to do - hiking, mountain biking, etc. When I talked to him in more detail about some of his favorite hikes and rides, it became apparent that they were all done before he went to Google and that he no longer has time. Then as I talked to the rest of the team members I found the same thing - their lives revolve around Google. And as I looked around I saw all of the great amenities that are geared toward keeping you on-campus - great food, free laundry, haircuts, oil changes, gym, swimming pool, etc. You could literally live at the office and have everything you need.

    That's when I realized that I didn't want to work there. They wanted to bring me back for another interview for a team member that wasn't there for the first one, but I declined and took another job.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Monday June 25, 2012 @06:00PM (#40445915)

    Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

    Well, right out of the gate he was not applying for the same job. So its inherently and apples to oranges comparison.

    Which only goes to show that Google cares about the tech stuff, and MS just cares to make money.

    That's drawing a pretty specific conclusion from virtually no information. Your wouldn't have some sort of bias would you?

    One could chalk it up to the different requirements of the job he's applying for.

    Or one could spin it that Microsoft values effective communication highly even for its technical positions.

  • Re:wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jasomill (186436) on Monday June 25, 2012 @06:03PM (#40445969)

    That actually sounds much better than the usual "puzzle-style" interview questions I hear. I'd personally begin by asking for high-level details. What applications do you have in mind? Alternatively, are you looking for a specific sort of boat? Without knowing the first thing about boats, there are obvious orders-of-magnitude design, process, and resource differences between building a kayak, say, and an oil tanker. Note here that I'd be careful to avoid detailed design or requirement questions: by my own admission, I don't know how to build boats, so the resulting "requirements discussion" would almost surely be "bike-shedding."

    Next, given that there's (presumably) a well-established industry selling ____ boats, why are we assuming at the outset that we should build rather than buy? Suppose the answer is "we're not an end-user, our business plan involves breaking into boat manufacturing."

    Fair enough. Then doing profitability requires both building and selling boats in a market with established players, and, by our (my) own admission, we (I) don't yet know how to build a boat, let alone do so well enough to make a manufacturable and marketable product (not to mention the highly nontrivial matters of actual marketing and manufacturing "at scale"). So unless we already have a crack boat-design team at our disposal (in which case, why are you asking me?) it might bewiser, at least for a few years, to get our feet wet by OEMing third-party boats, building something related but less ambitious like "boat accessories", etc., before committing to full-on "boat-building."

    And so on. Presumably this is the sort of discussion they want to hear?

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday June 25, 2012 @06:05PM (#40445999) Homepage

    That, and everything at Google seems to be geared around making you feel like you're still in college... forever. There's the big campus, where everybody eats together in the cafeterias or in the quad, the free T-shirts and sweatshirts (around San Francisco, you constantly see Googlers out at bars wearing their Google shirts, just like how you see people wearing college shirts around campus), the little coding tips posted all over the place ("Hey kids! Remember to use the right data structures")... hell, when you go to a Google event, the sessions when you can talk to Google engineers and ask them your questions are actually called "office hours." If you really, really, really enjoy being treated like a college student, it might seem like heaven to you, but I can imagine that a seasoned, professional developer could feel pretty insulted by that level of paternalism. That said, Google also seems to favor hiring people right out of college.

  • by Zaelath (2588189) on Monday June 25, 2012 @06:41PM (#40446545)

    I'll take number 1.

    No sensible employer will keep a number 2 employee beyond year 1 and I don't like to switch jobs that often. In fact if number 2 was a serious option I would expect you were going to axe me after 12 months for a total spend of ~$66k rather than keep me for 24 months at a total spend of $268 million. Meanwhile I'd need to keep myself in ramen noodles for the first 10 months while living in my parent's house.

  • by painandgreed (692585) on Monday June 25, 2012 @07:05PM (#40446843)

    Ten cents and hour doubling every month will make you more in a year and a half than the $100k/year would in those same time, and impossibly more after that. I'd see it as a question judging how long you wanted to work at Microsoft. If you were in for a career, you'd end up making more than Bill. If you wanted to jump ship in a year with MS on your resume to make more some place else, then 1 would be the answer. Different people want different things. Some just want to jump jobs every year or two for better raises and to keep things interesting. Some are looking to stick around for the long haul. Projects also look for both sorts of people. Since we probably don't know what he wants, I'd be honest and discuss how long I wanted to stay with MS and what my future plans were.

    What I would have answered would have depended on when I interviewed. Earlier, I'd take the money and run. Later, when asked what I saw myself doing two years from now in an interview, my response was "still sitting here doing the same thing. I've played the .com job jumping game for years now and am ready to settle down." That was the answer they were looking for as they had to refill that position every year. They paid me more than I asked and here I still am ten years later.

  • by ImprovOmega (744717) on Monday June 25, 2012 @08:34PM (#40447627)

    If you really, really, really enjoy being treated like a college student, it might seem like heaven to you, but I can imagine that a seasoned, professional developer could feel pretty insulted by that level of paternalism. That said, Google also seems to favor hiring people right out of college.

    You know, if you're hiring strategy is to go after people with Asperger's who hyper-focus on interesting technical problems and hate the concept of change...that's probably an excellent way to build a work environment where such individuals will thrive.

    I mean, think about it - they just spent 4 years getting used to college and are about to face yet another major life change and here comes Google to say that hey, things don't have to change much at all - work can be just like college for you. I probably would have jumped on an opportunity like that if I'd realized what the potential upside was. On the other hand I probably wouldn't be married right now and I would most likely be working 80+ hour weeks, but hey.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Monday June 25, 2012 @08:48PM (#40447747)
    Yeah the same thing happened to me. If you have to do a lot of interviews it doesn't mean the corporation is an awesome place to be. Just that it is so large that it has people who have to justify their paychecks by spending days interviewing people. Not exactly a sign of a productive environment I may add...
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @02:07AM (#40449591) Journal
    An interview is a two way process.

    Many of us wouldn't work for a company that had such a one sided view of things. I want a better job. The company wants the best employee. I'm happy to prove I'm the best employee, but they have to prove they're the best employer. If they want me to jump through hoops, then clearly they want a trained poodle and not an experienced software developer.

    In that sense I agree with you. We're clearly not going to get on.

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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